What is the study area for the project?

    The project includes Lower and Upper Water Street, from Terminal Road to Historic Properties.

    What is a Functional Plan?

    The functional planning process is the first stage of redesigning a street. The objective of the Functional Plan is to develop a vision for the corridor based on its current and future needs and based on direction from existing transportation and land use plans and policies, like the Integrated Mobility Plan, the Active Transportation Priorities Plan, Halifax Transit’s Moving Forward Together Plan, among others.

    Functional Plans help us to:

    • Identify potential street configuration options that aim to improve certain aspects of the street. Functional plans on urban corridors tend to focus on addressing gaps in active transportation infrastructure (e.g., sidewalks, bicycle lanes) and improving public transit through transit priority measures and enhanced bus stops.
    • Understand the potential implications of different design options on the street functionality (e.g., traffic impacts, curbside access) and impacts to right-of-way, private properties, and utilities, among others.

    Why is a Functional Plan being completed for Water Street?

    Policy Context
    Recently approved plans including the Integrated Mobility Plan (IMP) and Halifax Transit’s Moving Forward Together Plan (MFTP) make clear HRM’s intent to continue to invest in Water Street as a key component of the regional transportation network. Water Street is an important Pedestrian Corridor and has also been designated as a ‘Transit Priority Corridor’ and an ‘All Ages and Abilities' (AAA) bicycle route. Given the many demands being placed on Water Street, planning for its future presents some challenges.

    Development Growth
    In recent years, Water Street has seen significant development activity as residential densification of downtown Halifax has rapidly increased. The recent 2021 Census, indicates that downtown Halifax is now home to over 25,000 residents, growing by 26.1% since 2016.

    Development intensification introduces new mobility demands to the street that need to be considered, but also provides opportunities to integrate street improvements into development-related street reinstatement, providing cost synergies and reducing construction disruption. With several impending developments on the horizon, a comprehensive plan will be critical to the ability to successfully integrate improvements to Water Street with developments and avoid missed opportunities.

    Functional Planning Process
    In an effort to consider the various possibilities in terms of multimodal accommodation (pedestrians, bicycles, transit, goods movement and automobile), land use planning, and urban design, HRM’s Transportation Planning team is undertaking a functional planning and design process for the Water Street corridor that is intended to guide its development over time.

    What are some specific objectives of this project?

    Specific objectives of the project include the following:

    • Complete a detailed review of existing conditions in the study area that identifies potential constraints (e.g., utility conflicts, property / right-of-way (ROW), etc.).
    • Identify design options to improve the ability of Water Street to better accommodate all road users, with consideration given to the roles that have been envisioned for it in municipal plans and policies.
    • Review development potential along Water Street to consider future mobility needs along the corridor as well as to identify opportunities to integrate any street upgrades with future developments.
    • Develop a detailed understanding of design alternatives, including consideration of any necessary trade-offs.
    • Evaluate the effectiveness of design options under consideration based on their ability to meet design objectives.
    • Complete functional design and cost estimates for proposed design options, consider implementation costs relative to project benefits and develop a recommended approach to implementation.

    What is a ‘Complete Street’? Will Water Street be considered a “Complete Street”?

    Water Street is being redesigned using a “Complete Streets” approach. This approach to street design considers how the street functions as a destination or a ‘place’ as well as a mobility ‘link’. It aims to improve the comfort, safety, and convenience for all transportation modes, emphasizing improvements for pedestrians, cyclists, and transit users.

    ‘Place’ features are intended to provide pleasure, improve the street’s attractiveness, and help define the character of an area; these can include decorative sidewalk pavers, light poles, ornamental plants, trees, and public art. Given Water Street’s historical character and importance from the perspective of tourism and civic events, aesthetic appeal is particularly important.

    Will the Functional Design Improve traffic congestion on Water Street?

    Traffic on Water Street is often busy during peak periods, and as a very constrained corridor, there are limited opportunities to improve traffic flow. The Water Street Functional Design will attempt to manage congestion by enabling more people to walk, cycle, or take transit by making these options more comfortable and convenient.

    Through the IMP, the Municipality has adopted a new approach that emphasizes improvements to sustainable travel modes, such as active transportation and transit, to help manage congestion and to provide residents with more options to move around the municipality.

    For more information on how the Integrated Mobility Plan is helping to manage congestion, view the program’s FAQ.

    Will there be bicycle lanes on Water Street?

    Yes, protected bicycle lanes are being proposed as part of the functional design. The Active Transportation Priorities Plan (2014) identifies Water Street as proposed all ages and abilities (AAA) cycling connection, providing a northbound connection for cyclists that pairs with the southbound cycling connection of Hollis Street. In 2019, Halifax Regional Council approved a northbound ‘AAA’ protected bicycle lane on Water Street. In 2020, a tactical bikeway (using temporary materials including precast curbs and flexible bollards) was installed on Water Street. The functional design will aim to formalize this tactical bikeway and make it permanent.

    Have you considered a bi-directional (two-way) bikeway on Water Street?

    The project team recognizes that a bi-directional bikeway along Water Street is desirable. This potential design option has been explored; however, there are physical constraints that limit the potential for a continuous bi-directional bikeway over the entire length of the corridor.

    Will there be a dedicated bus lane on Water Street?

    The Integrated Mobility Plan (IMP) and Halifax Transit’s Moving Forward Together Plan (MFTP) designate Water Street as a ‘Transit Priority Corridor’. The functional plan has considered the addition of transit priority measures (e.g. dedicated bus lanes, transit signal priority, queue jumps, etc.) along Water Street to improve the reliability of transit. The Transit-Focused option includes a peak period bus lane.

    Will there be changes to on-street parking on Water Street?

    Currently, on-street parking is almost exclusively limited to the west side of Water Street. The two design options being considered have different implications for on-street parking on Water Street.

    • The Pedestrian-Enhanced option attempts to strategically allocate on-street parking to the side of the street that has the highest apparent curbside access demand. Most on-street parking will be maintained on the west side of the street, where it currently is located.
    • The Transit-Focused option will relocate on-street parking from the west side of the street, where it currently is, to the east side of the street (by the Waterfront). Parking will not be permitted during the operational hours of the bus lane (i.e., commuter peak periods).

    When will the construction happen, and how much will it cost?

    Construction of the entire corridor is expected to start after 2025. However, integration opportunities with new developments will be explored. This will provide an opportunity to integrate street improvements into development-related street reinstatement, providing cost synergies and reducing construction disruption.

    Is this project part of the Cogswell Redevelopment?

    No, this project is not part of the Cogswell Redevelopment project. However, any proposed changes to Water Street will tie into / integrate with the Cogswell redevelopment area.